By Rose Brennan
For us Catholics, there are few symbols of the season more ever-present than the Advent wreath. In the darkest days of our calendar, there are four candles that remind us of the light soon to make its way into the world to dwell among us.
Toward the end of Advent, I find myself giggling when I look upon my Advent wreath. The fourth candle stands about as strong as the day it was first lit. Meanwhile, the first candle looks pretty rough, melted down and shriveled down to almost nothing.
To me, these two candles exemplify my state of mind during the Advent season. The Catholic part of me feels like the fourth candle: new liturgical year, new liturgical season, and overall emboldened and excited for the Christmas season. Meanwhile, the rest of me feels like the first candle: weary and tired, another calendar year that will soon draw to a close—and not a moment too soon, in my opinion.
I don’t find it at all controversial to say that sometimes it’s quite exhausting to exist sometimes—especially with the holiday season that closes out the year. There’s so much to do with so little time. And every so often, I’m forced to decide what’s truly essential and what will need to wait until next year.
By the time Christmas rolls around, I’m just so tired from the holiday season and from the year as a whole. And if you’ve read any of the headlines from the past month alone, it’s really no wonder I feel that way—and maybe you feel the same.
But often when I feel tired, I turn to music. I’m almost always playing music at my desk at work, and during the month of December, that means Christmas music. Sure, I listen to the contemporary stuff, and can’t help but get up and dance when “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande plays. But I’m also drawn to traditional carols as well, and they endow a sense of peace in me.
My favorite carol, “O Holy Night,” has one particular lyric that essentially becomes my mantra during the Advent season: “The weary world rejoices.” Yes, I’m weary. You’re probably weary. Mary and Joseph were almost certainly weary after that trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We’re well within our rights to be weary after a long year.
We can be weary, but we can also rejoice, just as Joseph and Mary did that very first Christmas. For the Light of the World has come down from heaven to dwell among us—not as a king with glory and pomp and circumstance, but as an infant born in poverty in a barn. And along with the Holy Family, the weary world rejoices.
In the final days of this calendar year—and in the first days of this liturgical year—find time to rest in the presence of the Lord. What better way is there for a weary world to rejoice than to rest peacefully like Christ did after he was born? After all, there are few things infants do better than sleep!
May you and your loved ones have a Blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas.